Is a Lack of Treatment Plans Killing Your Practice?

Delivering Excellent Customer Service

Inconsistency is a bad thing in life and business.

Consistency is one of the key reasons McDonald’s is a multi-billion dollar company.  Nobody thinks they make the best cheeseburger and fries, but no matter where you go in the world they taste the same.  Whether you are in Mankato, MN or Marakesh they are the same.  The same can’t be said for chiropractic.

You can walk into 3 different chiropractic offices and get 3 different treatment plans.  If you get any plan at all.  Not giving a plan at all is perhaps the worst form of poor customer service.

In my opinion, this needs to stop.  We need to at least be presenting a plan of care for our patients.  We need to give them an idea of what to expect.  This article isn’t about the length of treatment plans at all or how many visits should be included.  As long as you truly have the patients best interest in mind I don’t care.  Just make sure you recommend what they need and not one visit more or less.

If they need therapy but are on Medicare tell them and let them decide.  If they need 14 visits but their insurance only covers 9 tell them and let them decide.

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Pain Relief

If their only goal is pain relief and yours is too then you have a relatively easy job.  Most patients are out of pain or mostly out of pain in around 6 visits.  You simply have to tell them this and bid them farewell after they are out of pain.  I have worked in a clinic like this and I don’t like this model for a few reasons.

  1. You are constantly in need of new patients.  As one patient enters the front door 3 are leaving the back door.  It’s a hard way to do business.
  2. It’s not what’s best for the patients.  I can’t tell you how many people would come back in a month or two later with the exact same problem but worse.  Two or three adjustments, which was the clinic I worked at’s goal, is not enough to correct anything the majority of the time.
  3. It’s not best for chiropractic either.  The fate of our profession and the fate of your business is intertwined with what’s best for your patients.  If you don’t serve them well you won’t do well in business.  If you don’t do well in business the profession doesn’t get above 8%.

Why & How You Should Present Treatment Plans

  1. It’s better customer service.  Nobody likes not knowing what to expect.  When you lay out expectations at the beginning of a relationship the relationship is bound to go better.  The patients aren’t left wondering, “When is this ever going to end?”
  2. There are a couple of ways to present a treatment plan to a patient.  The standard way to recommend a certain number of visits over a certain amount of time.  This is typically how I do it.  Josh Wagner at Perfect Patient Funnel recommends simply telling a patient that you will be working together for the next month then reassess.  I haven’t tried this but it sounds appealing.
  3. Be flexible.  The care plan is not set in stone.  If they get better faster than you expected, based on subjective and objective measures, then shorten the care plan.  Patients will love you for this.  If they aren’t getting better figure out a different technique or co-manage with another provider.  I have been referred lots of people by patients that ended up having to have surgery despite care in my office.  Even if you “fail” them clinically doing what’s right for them pays off in the end.
  4. Be flexible.  Sometimes patients can’t commit to three times a week.  I recently had a patient that lived out of town say that she could not make three appointments a week.  I said that’s fine we will modify it to twice a week, but you will probably progress more slowly.  She has stuck with the modified care plan and referred a couple people to me as well.  She would be long gone if I had tried to be a hard ass and kept her at three times a week.

The point of this post is to help you improve your retention.  Maybe you don’t see the value in lifetime care for your patients, that’s fine.  Even if you feel this way, you and your patients will benefit greatly from better customer service and better clinical outcomes because of better compliance with care plans.


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